Don’t force us into indefinite strike, health workers tell Minister

• As NLC tasks FG to invest in health, education to boost productivity

Health workers, under the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), have warned the Federal Government and the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, not to force them to indefinite and long strike over their treatment on the issue of COVID-19 hazard allowance and other sundry issues.

The health workers further warned that the actions of the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Health to all their concerns is a signal to war, saying that dialogue must have a mark where it starts and ends.

The President of MHWUN, Comrade Josiah Biobelemoye, gave the warning on Wednesday, as the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, task the governments at all levels to invest more in health and education so as to boost productivity of her workforce.

Both Biobelemoye and Wabba, the present and immediate past president of MHWUN respectively were speaking at award Investiture on the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria president, Comrade Biobelemoye by the Ethics Resource Centre of Nigeria.

In his address, Comrade Biobelemoye called on the Minister of Health to urgently correct the error made during the payment of COVID-19 hazard allowance.

He emphasized that since the ministry has accepted that there was an error, the ideal thing is to address it without delay, so as not to push the workers into an avoidable industry action.

Biobelemoye said: “We entered into an agreement with the Federal Ministry of Health where the Ministry agreed that there was error in the implementation of the COVID-19 allowances. People who are earning N5,000 that ought to have been prepared on 50 per cent were given 10 per cent. Well, in our traditional way, we didn’t immediately rush to strike, we engaged government and they have seen the reasons. We are believing and hoping that before they pay the third batch, that correction will be made.

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“I want to make a very bright appeal to the Federal Ministry of Health as well as the Nigerian Government; do not lead us into temptation. I say again, do not lead us into temptation; because if you lead us into temptation when we have undergo very high level of patience, you will not be forgiven by nature, God and the people.

“That correction should be made along with every other demands we have made peacefully. These things should be given to us so that they don’t push us into embarking on strikes that we know will negatively impacted on Nigerians.

“We are not going to close the door on dialogue, but dialogue cannot be inexhaustible. Dialogue must have a mark where it starts and ends, but where we begin to see that they are igniting our appetite to distrust them, that will be the signal for war.”

Expressing delight to be given an awarded as the Medical Worker of the Decade, he said: “It’s beyond expression and it is out of the ordinary; especially now that we are at the forefront of the fight to protect Nigerians from the savage that is COVID-19.”

Also, his predecessor and President of the NLC, Comrade Wabba said COVID-19 has exposed the challenges of the two sectors of the economy.

According to him, the pandemic has thrown up the need for government all over the world to prioritise education and health as they shape development across the world.

The NLC president also advised workers to upgrade their skills in accordance with technology as it drives the process of development and production everywhere in the world.

Wabba said: “We are in the fourth industrial revolution and in this revolution, it is technology that drives the process of development and production everywhere in the world. Therefore, these are times to upgrade our skills because there are lots of opportunities brought by the new digital era. We will have new forms of employment and relationships.

“COVID-19 has exposed some challenges in two critical sectors of the economy. These two sectors, the Education sector and Health sector, shape development everywhere around the world. Therefore, we need more investments in health and we need more investment in education. Our people need to be healthy and educated to be productive.”

On the honour done to the MHWUN president, he said, “let me appreciate the Ethics Resource Center for finding the union fit and for also looking at the development that has transformed the union to where it is today, from 2011 to date. I think it’s a honour well deserved because even other unions in the committee of unions have come to agree that the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria is one of the leading unions if not the leading union in the country today.”

 

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